Although Cardiff has been around for centuries, it was only in 1955 that it was recognized as the capital of Wales. The Celts migrated to Cardiff as far back as 600 BC, while the Romans built a fort here in AD 75 and remains of a Roman wall can still be seen beneath Cardiff Castle today. The Vikings stormed the Welsh coast almost 800 years later in AD 850 and the Normans took control in the 12th century when they built Cardiff Castle.
Cardiff remained a small city for much of its medieval life and relied heavily on its coal output and other heavy industries. The Act of Union in 1542 changed the political structure of Cardiff and English was made the official language. Another important date in the history of Cardiff and Wales is May 8th 1648, with the Battle of St Fagans during the English Civil War; the Museum of Welsh Life stands on the very site and re-enactments of the battle take place here every year.
The Industrial Revolution
Cardiff’s population and prominence took off in the 19th century at the time of the Industrial Revolution and the construction of a canal and the Taff Vale Railway in 1841 which linked Cardiff with Merthyr Tydfil. Merthyr was producing iron at an impressive rate and the implementation of a railway sped up the transportation of coal and iron ore to the Cardiff docks immensely. At the same time, the Marques of Bute, a wealthy landowner and prominent Cardiff figure, aided the city’s expansion by building up large swathes of the city, including the new East Dock. The Bute family famously renovated Cardiff Castle and also owned estates in Scotland.
Cardiff Receives City Status
Cardiff was granted city status in 1905 by Edward VII; a time when Cardiff was the world’s largest coal exporter. The Coal Exchange in Cardiff Bay (today a concert venue) was regularly seeing many large business deals